It is common that women tend to be more sensitive to cold than men, but why is this so? Although there is no definitive answer to this question, research has revealed a few potential explanations behind the apparent gender difference in cold temperature tolerance.
This article explores these reasons and explains how being aware of them can help men and women better adapt their clothing and environment to maximize their comfort and maintain good health. From biological differences, like body composition, to socio-cultural factors, like fashion trends, there are many critical elements that come into play when it comes to feeling chillier than your peers. Let’s dive into the reasons for our potential vulnerability and give tips for staying warm, even on the coldest days!
Women are more sensitive to cold than men for a variety of reasons, all supported by scientific evidence.
Women tend to have a higher body fat percentage, which insulates the body and helps retain heat better. This is because fat has a lower metabolic rate than muscle tissue, which means it produces less heat during physical activity. Also, women’s bodies have a higher surface area to volume ratio than men’s, which leads to faster heat loss. This means that in cold weather, women feel the effects of the cold before men and cool down more quickly after exertion.
Additionally, some research suggests that hormonal changes in female metabolism may also affect their sensitivity to cold. Estrogen is known to reduce levels of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in the body, which helps generate heat. A study by researchers at Ohio State University found that female rats given estrogen had significantly lower levels of BAT than male rats, making them more sensitive to cold. than males. However, this effect was reduced when estrogen levels were restored to normal, suggesting that hormonal fluctuations may play an important role in regulating thermal homeostasis in females.
As for men, scientists have demonstrated that testosterone has a major impact on thermogenesis and the ability of individuals to feel the ambient cold. This is due to its role in inhibiting the protein channel TRPM8, which is found in nerve endings under the skin. This inhibition reduces the sensitivity of these nerve endings to changes in temperature, which means that men will experience fewer sensations than women when exposed to cold temperatures. In other words, higher levels of testosterone in the male body lead to decreased sensitivity to temperature-related sensations, such as feeling cold.
Another reason women may feel colder than men is due to differences in circulation. Studies show that women’s circulatory system is more efficient at removing heat from the core of the body, causing them to feel colder even if they engage in active warming behaviors like shivering or exercising. Additionally, research suggests that women’s skin tends to be thinner than men’s, making it less effective at retaining internal heat and creating a barrier against cold temperatures from outside sources.
Finally, studies indicate that psychological factors may also play a role in how people perceive the cold. Women tend to have higher levels of anxiety and stress than men, which can contribute to increased sensitivity when exposed to cold environments. Additionally, cultural norms that shape expectations of gender roles can cause us to behave differently in situations where we feel cold; women may be more inclined to express their discomfort, while men may remain stoic despite being affected by the cold as well.
Is it time to consider thermal comfort between the two sexes in all spaces?
The results of a study conducted in 1972 by three Scandinavian researchers suggest that it is possible to find an ideal temperature that could satisfy the comfort needs of both men and women. The study was conducted in two high school classrooms, and the conclusions were that the “optimal” temperature should be set at 24.3°C.
This point was identified as the balance point between the number of girls who were too cold and the number of boys who were too hot – meaning that 16% of girls and boys respectively considered themselves to be unwell. comfortable at this temperature. The study points out that it is often easier to adapt to colder temperatures by adding clothing, rather than removing layers if the heat becomes uncomfortable. This can help reduce the extra energy expenditure of regulating body temperature if you find yourself in an environment with fluctuating temperatures.
It is therefore clear from this experience that it is not impossible to create an equal level of comfort for men and women, but it is enough to take into account the subtle differences in preference when adjusting air conditioning or heating systems.